Penguins send Sprong back to junior

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have assigned forward Daniel Sprong back to the Charlottetown Islanders of the QMJHL.

“Spending this time in the NHL has been a good development experience for Daniel,” General Manager Jim Rutherford said in a team release. “But it’s important for him to have more playing time.”

Rutherford and former coach Mike Johnston seemed to disagree on how to use the 18-year-old forward.

The GM wanted Sprong to play more while Johnston kept making him a healthy scratch.

The Penguins have burned the first year of Sprong’s contract because he suited up in more than nine regular season games in 2015-16.

That means he’ll have two years remaining on his three-year entry-level contract after this season.

He had two goals in 18 games during his stint with the Penguins.

He’ll be able to rejoin the team once his junior season comes to an end (not before Mar. 19).

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”

Hanifin stays in Carolina; Fleury heads back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Carolina Hurricanes have returned Haydn Fleury to the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.

The club also announced that they have assigned Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Brock McGinn, and Derek Ryan to the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.

Fleury was selected seventh overall by the Hurricanes in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

The 19-year-old scored six goals and 28 points in 63 games with Red Deer last season, and also added a goal in his only AHL contest with the Checkers.

The move means that Noah Hanifin will be sticking around.

The 18-year-old was the fifth overall selection in last June’s draft, and the ‘Canes must feel like he can contribute right away.

Hanifin had five goals, 23 points and plus-12 rating in his only season at Boston College.

The rookie skated on Carolina’s third pairing with Michal Jordan at practice earlier today.

They will enter the season with a young group of defensemen, as four of the team’s seven blueliners are 25-years-old or younger.

 

Detroit sends ’15 first-rounder Svechnikov back to junior

Evgeny Svechnikov
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Evgeny Svechnikov’s first NHL training camp is done.

Svechnikov, Detroit’s first-round pick (19th overall) at this year’s draft, has been returned to his junior team in the Quebec League, the club announced on Thursday.

The 18-year-old never had a chance of cracking the Red Wings roster this year, so his demotion shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. Svechnikov got a brief taste of NHL hockey, appearing in Detroit’s 5-4 OT loss to the Blackhawks on Tuesday, getting just over 12 minutes of ice time.